JAMES MCCARTHY HAS hailed the return of Rory O’Carroll to the Dublin panel, while remaining tight-lipped over the prospect of a Diarmuid Connolly comeback. 

O’Carroll recently moved home after spending three years in New Zealand and after impressing for Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin SFC, the full-back was recalled to the county set-up by Jim Gavin.

“He’s been going great,” said McCarthy. “I obviously played against Rory in the club championship game against Kilmacud and he was good against us that night.

“He’ll add greatly to our already great set of backs. The competition has ramped up altogether now again.

“Lads have a lot of respect for him, he’s a great character and he’s a strong-willed man. He was obviously a very important player for us before he went away.

“He’s come back now, he’s excited to be back and he has a huge challenge to compete for a place on the team. Lads were delighted to have him back.”

The two-time All-Star provides an extra option for the full-back position, an area both Kerry and Tyrone looked to exploit when they played Dublin in the league. 

McCarthy himself spent time at full-back marking Tommy Walsh during the Division 1 loss to the Kingdom in Tralee, although he’s unsure if O’Carroll’s return will mean he won’t be required to fill the number 3 spot anymore. 

“Possibly. Nobody knows, everyone’s pushing so hard for places. Everyone’s worrying about their own spots at the moment, the competition is that good. So it’s exciting to see how it goes.”

Rumours of Connolly’s potential return intensified when Gavin said earlier this month that he would “love to see him back” on the panel.

“Jim has an open door policy,” said McCarthy. “Diarmuid is a great player, (it would be) great to have him back.

“You’ve just got to respect the decision there but it’s always an open door policy there. You’ll have to ask Jim that.”

James McCarthy pictured at AIB’s launch of the 2019 All Ireland senior football championship.

Source: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

McCarthy praised the leadership of the recently retired Paul Flynn, who he soldiered with for his entire inter-county career.

“Paul is an all or nothing man. He was a great leader in the team. He really drove that team on for years. He’s going to be a big loss but you’ve got to respect the decision he’s made.

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“I won’t miss him too much, we used to go toe-to-toe a lot for many years and were knocking scalps out of each other in A vs B games,” he laughed.

“I’m joking, but he was a great servant to the team.” 

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